What is the theory behind this Healthy vs unhealthy coping skills worksheet?
Coping skills are certain cognitive, behavioural and emotional strategies that we utilise in our daily lives to reduce distress, unpleasant emotions and deal with problems.
This worksheet is based on the ‘Health Theory of Coping’, according to which the type of coping skill used depends on the intensity of the negative emotions. Unhelpful skills are used mostly when helpful skills have failed to reduce emotional arousal. Evidence also suggests that healthy coping skills are linked with better mental health and wellbeing while unhealthy ones enhance distress and contribute to mental illnesses.
How will the worksheet help?
This worksheet will help educate individuals about healthy and unhealthy coping styles by providing a comprehensive list that they can use to assess their own style of coping. This can also help the therapist understand which of the client’s coping styles are contributing to their current issues. A coping skill building session can be planned accordingly.
How to use the worksheet?
This worksheet can be used in counselling and therapeutic settings to assess the current coping styles of individuals seeking help for their distressing emotions. It can also be utilised both in individual and group settings.
Instruct the client to go through the listed coping skills and identify which are the ones that they use in times of distress and challenging life situations.They can also identify any others from their own experiences apart from the one listed.
Healthy vs unhealthy coping skills worksheet
Coping Skills are emotional, cognitive and behavioural strategies that we use to deal with negative emotions and problematic situations in our daily lives. They vary a great deal depending on the person and the situation. While all such coping skills help us through bad times some are actually causing more harm than good in the long run. Read through the provided list and assess which coping skills do you use most often.
|Healthy Coping Skills||Unhealthy Coping Skills|
|Using positive self talk||Distracting yourself with any healthy activity to take a break||Overeating/Emotional eating/Binge Eating||Become overly critical of yourself|
|Using a solution oriented approach||Challenge your negative thoughts||Procrastination or avoidance (neglecting obligations, work etc)||Avoid the problem through any means|
|Physical Activity/Exercising||Utilising your knowledge of your strengths to make the best of the situation||Self harm – engage in reckless behaviours for self harming behaviours||Show aggression towards objects or people|
|Relaxation techniques such as Yoga or Deep Breathing||Showing compassion to yourself||Social Withdrawal – staying in your room, refusing to talk to anyone||Consistently ruminate about the past /things you cannot change|
|Spend some quality time with family or friends||Doing self-soothing activities||Substance abuse (drugs or alcohol)||Either getting too little sleep or too much of it|
|Doing self-soothing activities||Using grounding techniques to focus on the present||Engage in negative self talk||Uninterrupted and excessive screen time (watching TV series, movies etc)|
|Which of the above do you use? Mention any other healthy coping skills that get you through bad times.||Which of the above have you noticed yourself doing? Mention any other unhealthy coping skills that you have noticed yourself doing in the past.|
Stallman, H.M (2020) Health theory of coping. Australian Psychologist, 55, 295– 306. https://doi.org/10.1111/ap.12465
Stallman, H.M. (2017). Coping Index. Adelaide: University of South Australia
You can download this worksheet here.